Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A Honduran child plays at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with his father on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As Trump Orders Sessions to Go After His Political Foes, Reminder That More Than 500 Children Still Separated From Their Families

A month after court-ordered family reunification deadline, the DOJ—which Trumps think should be chasing down right-wing conspiracy theories—continues to prove itself incapable of putting children back into the arms of their families

Julia Conley

As President Donald Trump started his day by demanding the Department of Justice (DOJ) target his growing list of political enemies, department lawyers admitted in a court-mandated status report that they have still, thus far, failed to return more than 500 children to their parents, a month after the deadline for family reunification passed.

The document was filed in the ACLU's ongoing lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's family separation policy. A total of 528 children, including 23 under the age of five, remain in government-run detention centers around the country, and 343 of those children's parents have been deported.

The government has argued that deported parents have to be reunited with their children outside of the country, eliminating their children's chance to exercise their legal right to asylum in the United States.

Many of the deported parents signed so-called "voluntary departure orders" at the urging of the Trump administration, with the understanding that doing so would allow them to see their children again.

The ACLU has formed a steering committee with groups including Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Women's Refugee Commission (WRC), and Justice in Motion to assist the government in locating the parents who have been deported, as the DOJ has proven unable and unwilling to find them. Earlier this month, the Trump administration attempted to shift responsibility for the ongoing separation crisis onto the ACLU—a move that was soundly rejected by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who is overseeing the family separation case.

"All of this is the result of the government's separation, and then inability and failure to track and reunite," Sabraw said. "And for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration."

As ACLU digital communications strategist Amrit Cheng wrote this week, the steering committee's attempts to reunite the families have been made even more difficult by the government's failure to release contact information for the deported parents in a timely manner. The DOJ waited several weeks before turning over parents' phone numbers.

"Thus far, many of the phone numbers have been inoperable," wrote Cheng. "The fact of the matter is that many parents may be in hiding, considering that they have all been deported to countries which they fled in the first place. It certainly doesn’t help that the government may have had this information for more than a month before handing it over to us. ...Every additional day that children wait to be with their parents is damaging—it's simple unacceptable that the government had information that could help reunite them faster but sat on it."

The ACLU is returning to Sabraw's courtroom on Friday to continue their case demanding that the Trump administration do everything in its power to reunite the hundreds of families that remain separated.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'I Simply Cannot Stand By': Jayapal Endorses Cisneros Against Anti-Abortion Incumbent Cuellar

"At a time when our reproductive freedoms are under attack by an extremist Supreme Court, we must elect pro-choice candidates that will fight to make sure abortion remains the law of the land."

Jake Johnson ·


In Telling Slip, George W. Bush Condemns the 'Unjustified and Brutal Invasion of Iraq'

"It's hard to get past the nihilistic evil of killing hundreds of thousands, making millions into refugees, and turning it into stand-up to defuse the awkwardness of your hypocrisy," responded one journalist.

Jake Johnson ·


Green Groups Urge California Gov. Newsom to Close Aging Nuclear Plant on Schedule

"Diablo Canyon is dangerous, dirty, and expensive," a coalition of environmental organizations said in a letter to California's Democratic governor. "It must retire as planned."

Brett Wilkins ·


'After Which Failed Pregnancy Should I Have Been Imprisoned?' Asks Rep. Lucy McBath

The congresswoman highlighted how right-wing attacks on abortion rights could also impact the healthcare available to patients who experience miscarriages and stillbirths.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Slap in the Face to Voters': Kansas Supreme Court Upholds GOP Map

"This case is only one skirmish in the wholesale assault on democracy in Kansas and around the country," said the head of the state's ACLU.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo